A pause, “well, why is that? This is an important meeting.”
“Because it is a major holiday for me, and I am taking a personal day to celebrate it.”
Another, longer pause. “Wait, your holiday is Halloween? That’s not a religious holiday.”
“No, my holiday is Samhain, which is a holiday dedicated to my ancestors. Modern Halloween traditions actually derived from this much older holiday.”
Another pause. “Can’t you celebrate it on another day?”
“No. The timing is critical to the celebration. Would I ask you to meet on Christmas or Easter?”
Another pause. “That’s not the same thing.”
The above interchange is a fairly common interaction fairly typical of my workplace experiences in being a minority religion, a druid, here in the USA. In fact, I had this exchange with someone just last week. Since this kind of thing seems…
Each year as winter approaches, I reliably find my patients asking me about the best herbal remedies to use during the cold weather months. One of the most common questions I encounter is, “What nutritional preparations can I use to help keep my family strong and healthy throughout the sniffle season?”. There’s a wide array of herbs well-suited to addressing specific and general winter wellness goals, but one of my favorite, tried-and-true choices for general immune support is the elderberry.
And while there are lots of ways to enjoy the healthful benefits of elderberries, one of the best-loved is that longtime herbal apothecary staple, elderberry syrup.
Elderberry Syrup Benefits
The berries, flowers, and bark of the elder (Sambucus) plant have long been prized by herbalists across the globe, and modern studies have also substantiated the berries’ ability to help maintain normal, healthy functioning of our immune system*. This makes elderberry an…
There in Misali, I was discovering my own circular route, from childhood familiarity with Aloe vera in America, to the splendid diversity found in Africa, and eventually… back home again.
The popular story goes that long ago, somewhere in North Africa, grew a smallish yet handsome, robust and edible aloe, plump of leaf and yellow of flower. This unique plant was taken from a wild stand which has since been extirpated, leaving no parent population to be found. In the process of domestication, the plant lost its ability to reproduce from seeds, and is thus currently propagated by pups (lateral offshoots) only. This aloe became known as “Aloe vera,” a common name that eventually came to be accepted as the scientific name. Lovely Latin, it means “True aloe.”
However, the story makes little botanical sense, and although charming, has always left me with a number of questions unanswered. How true is this true aloe? If true, then I’d like to know where it is from, and why it is more true than the rest? If Aloe vera came originally from the wild, then why has it lost its ability to reproduce from seed? Because the ability to reproduce from seed is one of the main earmarks of a wild-derived species aloe. And, why is common Aloe vera so very consistent in form? Wild aloes are not like that–they show some variability in form, and indeed require pollination with plants of different parentage in order to make viable seed. Finally, why is the plant so very vigorous? One can hardly keep up with transplanting all the pups. This trait looks a lot like hybrid vigor. All these questions are satisfied by this one hypothesis: Aloe vera is a hybrid!
Overview: The Aloe family (the Aloaceae) is represented by about 550 species growing in mainland Africa and Arabia as well as the islands of Socotra, Zanzibar, the Mascarenes and Madagascar. Aloes are in general rosette-forming, polycarpic, drought-tolerant succulents. Their leaves are toothed on the margin, boat-shaped in cross-section, non-fibrous and filled with gel. The vascular bundles that occur just beneath the epidermis of the leaf are filled with a bitter, yellow latex. The flowers are drooping, tubular and brightly colored; arranged in terminal, sometimes branched, racemes. The seeds are dark-colored, occur in capsules, and are winged to encourage dispersal by wind. Beyond these commonalities, aloes come in a fantastic array of forms. There are tree aloes, single-stemmed aloes, multistemmed aloes, bushy aloes, stemless aloes, dwarf aloes, creeping aloes… Aloes are the most common medicinal herb in Africa. Many African mothers living in the bush know to use aloe leaf for treating conjunctivitis, a use that has rarely been understood by Western practitioners. Aloe in Africa is also used for treating burns and wounds, as a bitter tonic to the digestion, as an antiparasitic, for treating malarial fever, HIV/AIDS, jaundice, yellow fever, hepatitis, high blood pressure, etc. Ethnobotanical uses range from snuff ingredient (Aloe marlothii) to harborage of ancestral spirits (Aloe dichotoma). Aloe vera itself is a clumping aloe that will make a woody stem with age. The leaves are filled with mucopolysaccharide-rich gel that is used topically to treat burns or other skin injuries, promotes fibroblastic activity and speeds healing–a soothing and antiinflammatory emollient. The mucilage contains acemannan which is anti-tumor and beneficial against HIV. The skin of the leaves contains anthroquinone glycosides that are hydrolyzed in the intestines, speeding peristalsis and producing a stomachic and laxative effect.  
I do hope you will be able to take a little time out to enjoy the abundant beauty that nature so generously provides for us each year during the month of June. Our garden is resplendent with so many early summer flowers and in particular a wonderful array of roses of all colors and varieties.
Just taking a moment to connect with the energies of the flowers and trees in your environment on a regular basis can provide a very balancing antidote to a world where all too often these days there seems to be a discomforting sense of volatility and insecurity.
Seek out the flowers that most speak to you and allow them to help you connect more fully with your heart and the oneness and interconnection of all life. Enjoy!
Over the last few months, we have been experiencing a roller coaster ride of energies that…
Opportunities and possibilities abound this month beginning with this New Moon in the curious and creative sign of Gemini.
A New Moon is a time of new beginnings and starting a brand new chapter for the month ahead. This is a great time for setting intentions, and the curious and expansive sign of Gemini can help you think of just how to convey your intention and get your message across or fully commit to a new routine.
New Moon energy is also the perfect time for clearing or cleansing your home, crystals, decks and even yourself of any old habits or energy that might be blocking you from reaching your goals! Use this time to call in what you are wanting to create in the future.
This New Moon in Gemini opens the gateway to the Honey Moon cycle; a time of both productivity & sweetness.
Summary:After being kidnapped from her family, Ababuo never expected to be a parent again, but while traveling through North Africa carrying messages to her old Clan, something happened to change that expectation.
Story is the song of a person’s life. We need to sing, and we need someone to hear the singing. Storytold, and story heard. Story written. Story read creates the web of life in words. …Christina Baldwin, Storycatcher
Title: Waiting For Me To Catch Up Rating:PG-15 Summary:When Jeremiah Parks returned to the city of his birth, his life was in such turmoil that he failed to realize the most important thing in the middle of all the chaos. Now he has to learn to open his life to someone new while helping his Clan Leader keep history from repeating itself. Author’s Note:A huge THANK YOU to BJ Jones for allowing me to play in her ‘verse over at Sylum Clan. THANK YOU to Taibhrigh for the terrific banner art for my Sylum stories.